What is wrong with Android?

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Intro

It’s 2014 and Android still feels like it did on Day 1! Err…Laggy, stuttering and a complete design disaster.

Why do I think so? Well, it has a lot of layers to begin with. Right from design aesthetics to art elements, from user experience to internal coding, nearly everything is warped. And though it’s a blatant rip-off of iOS in terms of UI, it barely even comes close to anything from design aesthetics to usability to hardware integration iOS has offered (and improved) over the years. Or even Windows for that matter.

As I used to mockingly call it, the poor man’s iOS, it is sadly quite that, in every way.

Bad Luck with hardware…

Unlike the competition, Android is not end-user focused. At least none of the communication I’ve seen directly says so. It’s more about fancy specs, groundbreaking components and shiny new hardware. But that’s the hardware. Where is the Operating System optimization one might ask, and you’ve called for trouble.

This, in my opinion, is the heart of the issue. No matter what hardware you use, the software will always be playing catch-up. Android suffers from the curse of the hardware industry too. Because as soon as the OS DOES become compatible with the hardware, it’s outdated. The moment Android barely becomes settles down, it has to get up and run without its shoes.

The competition, and in this case let’s just speak about the top two, iOS and Windows, do things quite differently. They make hardware in-house. Or at least have strong control over quality. They also make the OS hardware-prone, i.e they delve deep into the code to make sure it will run smooth at least with the next two iterations of the hardware.

One thing we often hear during every update cycle is “Google hasn’t given us the source code yet” from OEMs. If the OS is lying with the OEM since like forever, the mystery only deepens why they are not able to make it compatible with their own hardware.

Horrible design decisions…

Forget the hardware and its compatibility with different OEMs. What happens when we talk about design and UI? It’s obnoxious, to put it politely.

Just look at Android’s first version.

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See that ugly Google Search bar? I have to take my thumb all the way in the middle of the the screen and click search for the keyboard to appear. On Windows Phone 7, the first iteration of Microsoft’s new OS, all you had to do was click on the Search hardware key right near your thumb. So not only is the design horrible, the usability too is zero.

Let’s cut to today, late 2014. Android has adopted sweet names through the years and now it is the time for Lollipop.

The ugly grid of icons are still very much present. We now have folders to keep things quickly accessible. Fair enough. There is one button to take you to the apps drawer. But hey, what’s this? Another three tiny dots randomly placed on the top to do the same thing? Wow! Brilliant I must say.

The lockscreen you ask? It’s some sort of circle where you have to pull in any direction and you will see a small lock on the right. Again, makes no sense.

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Let’s look at the multitasking windows.

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They look like small cards stacked one after another. Looks good? It’s a ripoff of Mac OS’s Time Machine program. And oh, the area space next to the cards just remains empty, just in case you were wondering what happens there.

This brand new design language is called “Material Design”. I have no clue why it’s called that but again, this is Android and barely anything makes sense.
(Microsoft’s Metro Design took the name from the Metro stations where signs were simple and easy to understand.)

Welcome to Lagathon…

And now comes my favorite part of Android OS, The Lag. I think there is some kind of internal marathon between all the Android devices of who lags the worse.
My last post spoke about how horrible and rampant the lag was on Android’s OWN hardware was. Not only is the hardware-software optimization zilch, and design decisions poor, but the OS performance is a sheer embarrassment.

From the unlock key vanishing, to it taking almost 4 seconds to register I’ve changed my portrait orientation to landscape and vice versa, to apps crashing every now and then. It’s a complete disaster of an OS.

But why is it the number one OS today? Surely it must have something to keep it in the game you might argue. Sure. It’s called luck. Not talent.

Just after iOS launched, Google knew they had to do something quick. And Android was born. Or rather bought. They gathered some like minded people from different parts of the world, OEMs that were as eager to take down the giant from Cupertino.

That’s it. No idea, no roadmap, no strategy. Just a maniacal mishmash of strategies.

Th OEMs role is a big one in Google’s success story and largely Samsung. In the end, it is you, the end-user, looking, hunting, searching for the right ROM because Google is too busy making advertising dollars from selling your information to companies.
IMHO, it’s the hardware optimisation, software lag and UI design elements that need to be given a serious thought. in short, they need to rethink their entire OS from ground up.

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